Romney adviser: Obama administration attempted to mislead on Libya attacks


Republicans have amped up criticism of the Obama administration over the attacks in Libya, which left four American foreign service officers dead, including the ambassador to Libya. The GOP has said the Obama administration has over-emphasized the role that an anti-Islam video posted to YouTube played in the attack.

On Thursday, Eric Fehrnstrom, a senior aide in Romney's campaign, told Fox News the country was "not going to be able to confront the challenges that face us in the Middle East if we’re not honest about them."

“We were initially told that this was a spontaneous demonstration in response to a video that was on YouTube," Fehrnstrom said. "The administration sent their ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, on the Sunday shows to defend that position. Now we’re learning that it was a pre-planned terrorist attack, conducted on the anniversary of 9/11 and that it involved elements of Al Qaeda."

Asked directly if he believes the administration lied about what happened in Libya, Fehrnstrom avoided the word, but indicated it was a possibility.

“Well, it appears that there was an attempt to mislead — if in fact there were early intelligence reports indicating that this was a pre-planned terrorist attack, and instead the administration was trying to persuade the American people that it was a spontaneous demonstration in response to a YouTube video, then of course, there does appear to be an attempt to mislead," Fehrnstrom said.

He went on to say the president needed to "level with the American people about what’s happening in that part of the world.”

White House press secretary Jay Carney said Thursday that it was "unfortunate" that the Republican nominee was trying "to score political points out of a terrorist attack that cost the lives of four Americans."

"Let’s be clear about this," Carney said, speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One. "Every step of the way, the information that we have provided to you and the general public about the attack in Benghazi has been based on the best intelligence we’ve had and the assessments of our intelligence community. We have said all along that there’s an ongoing investigation and that as more facts come out, we will follow those facts wherever they lead and apprise you of our assessments as those facts come to light."